Emerging from the cocoon of hibernation over the last few weeks, this morning has been the first of the year I have felt warm enough in the lorry to open my back windows and allow the air in. And what an enormous pleasure it is to welcome back the sun, still with us (just) at five and beginning to show up at eight.
I have been working at the Big House. (www.barrowmore.co.uk) I’m a concierge, which apart from being the lowest of the low, means I can get to know the residents from the floor of the house, help them take their medication, listen and talk to them, encourage them to do things and generally be there. I have loved doing the job and haven’t laughed (and sometimes cried) so much in a long time. Many of the men there (it’s all men) are younger than me but look a lot older as a result of tough lives, illness, disability or accident. Their needs are great but many still have a strong spirit which only needs a focus, which I try to provide. I have to steer an odd course between some of the staff who seem to want them to know their place and stay in it and others who want to animate and empower them. I’m the new boy so have the expected, ‘You wait till you’ve been here two years’ comment to deal with. Anyone know of a good response to that one?
Anyway I’m doing something right I think and it gives me (and I think will continue to give me) a focus apart from my own insatiable mind’s meanderings over the cruel months of winter. I have felt really valued which of course is an essential element of this old trouper’s needs. I do think 2018 is starting well – I have a purpose which is a great start.
The entertainer persona of my life is doing well too with most of my customers booking me again this coming summer. Martin will be playing at even more events this year so we will be working to integrate his unique blend of live music into the Classic and the Showbusiness Shows. I am looking forward to that. He has moved to Bristol now so will be a lot closer to the motorways than his previous home in Ilfracombe. He is doing a lot of his own concerts and is well on the road to re-inventing himself again. Something we all need to do periodically. I’m on my fourth or maybe fifth version of myself now and am becoming much better at it. Perhaps Barrowmore is rubbing off on me. Re-reading that sentence has the psychotherapist in me nodding and saying ‘Hmm, tell me more about that Mr Alexander’.
I have been keeping up with daily yoga and feel more flexible and stretched than I have in former winters when I have tended to vegetate and potato on the couch. I went to a memorable and extremely useful full day meditation workshop entitled ‘Stop worrying and start living’, run by the Kadampa Buddhist organisation (kadampa.org). I am including a short meditation in my daily routine and I find it is hugely helpful in focussing my mind and not worrying so much about the future. I am (or maybe I should say, my last reiteration was) a terrible worrier. I worried about so much that I didn’t have any room for dealing with what was making me worry. Not a happy state, but one which I am sure many people will recognise. I found a lovely quote from Seneca on Maria Popova’s superb invaluable weekly email letter (do check it out if, like me, you like to dip into wonderful quotes and mental, emotional and physical challenges), Brain Pickings (https://www.brainpickings.org ).
The first century Roman philosopher Seneca said “It is likely that some troubles will befall us; but it is not a present fact. How often has the unexpected happened! How often has the expected never come to pass! And even though it is ordained to be, what does it avail to run out to meet your suffering? You will suffer soon enough, when it arrives; so look forward meanwhile to better things. What shall you gain by doing this? Time. There will be many happenings meanwhile which will serve to postpone, or end, or pass on to another person, the trials which are near or even in your very presence. A fire has opened the way to flight. Men have been let down softly by a catastrophe. Sometimes the sword has been checked even at the victim’s throat. Men have survived their own executioners. Even bad fortune is fickle. Perhaps it will come, perhaps not; in the meantime it is not. So look forward to better things.
A good place to stop for now; looking forward to the Spring.
All the best from a road near you,